50 Greatest Quizzers of the First 50 Years - Set 2
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Steve Sorenson

Steve quizzed for Calvary Full Gospel A/G, Inglewood, California in an era that hardly resembles the quizzing of today. Quizzers wore mittens on their hands and raised them when they wanted to answer, along with the use of a quiz board, which was a long plank of wood with lights that were supposed to help officials whose job was to do nothing more than watch which hand went up first, since the "boards" were not always accurate. Questions styles were drastically different, and completing an interrupted question was often much more difficult than giving the answer. Consider the fact that teams would show up for a three game national sudden-death final after having heard fewer than 20 sets ever from the official writer over a book the size of Mark. Not to mention that the final championship round was played in front of thousands of spectators at General Council. To get an idea of what it might have been like, follow this link.

1965 was the last year that national finals consisted of a tournament with only three rounds, and Steve led his team to the national championship. As with Scott Laurens in 1963, traditionally, he has been considered the top scorer from 1965 as captain and high scorer of his team. In the final championship round, Steve led all scorers with 120 points. Steve's team began a three-year championship streak for the Southwest Region, which would eventually claim 18 championships, besting the next closest region by 11 wins, as of 2011.

After graduation, Steve continued to be involved in Southern California Bible Quiz for many years, serving as an official and district coordinator. He also wrote the official questions in 1978 over I & II Corinthians.

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David Baird

David Baird quizzed for Ebony A/G in Ebony, Virginia from 1972 to 1976 and quizzed three years at national finals. In 1973, he led his team to a national championship over the Gospel of John. Two years later, David was the top scorer at national finals in 1975. His final year at nationals, 1976, he placed what is believed to be 2nd high scorer in one of the most competitive national finals of the 1970's. Competitors remember David as an impressive quizzer who never let up, going toe-to-toe against every top scorer. His consistent dominance at the quiz table was unwavering from 1973 through 1976. He was often high scorer at tournaments, and everyone knew a game against his team, regardless of the level of competition, was going to be hard fought. In an era when only one team from each region moved on to national finals, there is broad agreement that the years David's team placed 2nd at regionals left one of the best teams in the country out of the running for the championship.

When he became the national top scorer in 1975, David earned a reputation for his uncanny ability to successfully interrupt questions at such an early point that it seemed impossible that he would be able to complete and answer them correctly. This took place at a time in Bible Quiz when the questions were not formulaic as they are today; thus, while there were still "key words" in many questions, the question writers were not restricted in how they could craft questions, and many would write questions that would appear to be going a certain way, and then the key word would take the question in a totally different direction. Such questions were known as "burn questions" and they were dreaded by every quizzer. Yet, David had an innate ability to tell where the question writer was going, and was rarely "burned" by such questions. He thus earned the moniker of "Super Quizzer" or "SQ" for his impressive abilities.

David continued to be involved with Bible Quiz for years, both as an official and official question writer in 1984 and 1985. Following graduation, David married Jo Ann Grizzle, another quizzer from Centreville, VA. He is currently lead pastor of The Life Church in Manassas, VA.

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Rhett Laurens

Rhett Laurens quizzed for Evangel Temple in Decatur, Georgia from 1975 to 1982 and was likely the best quizzer of the eight-team era, having many impressive accomplishments. Rhett's first year at nationals was in 1976, quizzing on a team with other top 50 member Mark Gilmer and winning the national championship. Rhett returned in 1978, and his team won national finals again, this time undefeated and three wins over the second place team. In 1979, his team placed third and he was top scorer with a 109 point average. In 1981, his team placed fourth and he was fourth high scorer. His final year, 1982, his team placed second and he was second high scorer with an average of 108.57 points per game. This national finals featured the first two perfect games in the history of national finals (a perfect game being 160 at the time), accomplished first by Paul Freitag and followed closely by Rhett. Rhett placed in the top 6 four times, a feat that has only rarely been duplicated since.

Kari Brodin, (the subject of the next bio) said of Rhett, "I was there in '78 and just had my eyes opened to what "real" quizzing was like, and of course Rhett was one of the ones who set that standard for me. I was able to return in 1981 and see him and his team again. Besides being a standout quizzer he was also uniquely personable and engaging. He could not only dominate a match, he could dominate the crowd with an enthusiastic, dynamic, even entertaining ability to answer difficult questions clearly and with appropriate emphatic inflection in his voice. He was not only saying the right words he was helping you understand their meaning and significance, and you were drawn in to his quizzing and encouraged by it."

Rhett is currently a licensed attorney, earning his JD from Harvard Law School and practicing law out of the Atlanta area.

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Kari Brodin

For those who knew Kari during her years as a quizzer, no one will be surprised to hear that now, as back then, she embodied the ideals of Bible Quiz. As great a competitor as she was at the quiz table, with what was proved to be unbeatable poise, she made sure to be first to make new friends, encourage younger quizzers, and practice in word and deed what she studied. In 1980 she was asked by the District Youth Director to quote the book of Romans at District Youth Convention, which she did perfectly and with both passion and meaning, bringing the verses to life in front of an awed crowd. The subsequent interest in the program from youth pastors who had attended the convention led to more than doubling the number of teams in the Northwest District.

Quizzing twice at national finals between 1978 and 1981, Kari amassed an impressive record. Her first time at finals was with Evergreen Christian A/G in Olympia, Washington, where she placed as the 3rd highest scorer and her team finished 7th. She returned to national finals in 1981 on the team from Renton A/G, Renton, Washington, and proceeded to run the table, placing 1st in both individual high score (109.29 ppg) and the team championships. In fact, at the time, Kari had the highest individual average in the history of quizzing. Even more exciting was the fact that at the end of the national round-robin, three teams (Renton, WA, Lanham, MD, and Springfield, MO) were tied for first place, and Renton's points forced them into a two-game playoff to win the title. During both matches Kari quizzed out with perfect 160-point games. In the final championship game, Kari waited for the 30-point question, commonly late in the set as was the norm at that time, which was question 19, to seal the game, and the championship, which was followed by a rousing standing ovation for a brilliant performance.

Kari was a picture of cool, calm, confidence on the buzzer. Even if you were fortunate enough to have her team on the run, she never seemed rattled, didn't change her game plan, and somehow found a way to win when the odds seemed impossible to beat. She was a tough competitor but at the same time a very gracious and humble person. She was and is a blessing to everyone she comes into contact with, and it was said of her performance in the "all-star" quiz for the top 6 quizzers in 1981 that she seemed absolutely anointed when quoting from the gospel of Matthew. Kari is one of Bible Quizzing's true stars -- someone who earned her reputation as an outstanding quizzer, but then went on to live an exemplary life. She is the kind of person parents would like their own children to become, and thus serves as a true Bible Quiz role model.

Following graduation, Kari wrote for national finals in 1986 over I & II Corinthians, and coached Cedar Park A/G, Bothell, Washington at nationals finals from 2005 to 2011, leading them to four consecutive 2nd place finishes (a record), from 2006 to 2009. She earned her B.A. from what was then Northwest College, and went on to earn her Ph.D from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is now a professor at Northwest University, her alma mater.

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Bryan Martindale

Bryan quizzed for Citrus Heights A/G, Citrus Heights, California and made three appearances at national finals from 1988 to 1990. He was a confident and dominant quizzer who often had an intuitive sense of when a "tricky" question was being read, which kept him from making too many mistakes. Bryan was respected by his competitors for his drive, completion skills, mastery of the material, and his ability to pull out the tough rounds. For the three years he quizzed at national finals, no team took Citrus Heights for granted. In 1988 his team finished 9th while Bryan was 4th high scorer with 77 points per game. The next year, in 1989, Citrus Heights won national finals with a 13-2 record. Brian was also 2nd high scorer, and won what was then an all day long one-on-one competition, with the final being played in front of thousands of spectators from both Bible Quiz and Teen Talent (now Fine Arts Festival) at the celebration service. Brian returned in 1990 where both he and his team placed 5th.

Although the questions in 1988 and 1990 were difficult, the 1989 questions made for particularly difficult quizzing all around, with extremely short answers and difficult-to-understand question structure. This made Bryan's consistent accomplishment over this three-year period even more impressive. His adeptness at question completion, and his intuition about the writer's style served him well. Most reread 30's could be answered by anyone on any team who had a serious "in essence" knowledge of the material, and by everyone who had the material memorized. Question sets rarely had more than occasional concordance questions, which were always a short answer, except for the few found in the one-on-one competition. This resulted in lower high scores for the top quizzers who took the chance of interrupting, and often much higher scores for second and third chair quizzers who collected rereads.

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Garrett Smiley

Garrett Smiley quizzed for Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, Florida from 1988 – 1991, and quizzed at three national finals. Garrett's first year at nationals was in 1988 when his church was the first to send two teams to national finals, which could not have happened before the expansion to 16 teams in 1984. He finished 25th and his team placed 8th. Garrett returned to national finals in 1990 and 1991, together with hall-of-famer Joshua Weber, and led his team to back-to-back national championships. These back-to-back wins tied his team, at the time, with only three other churches who had accomplished this feat. Garrett placed 4th individually both of these years, averaging 71.67 and 89.00 points per game, respectively. His last year he also led the quiz-out forward race with 11 quiz-outs in 15 rounds, a record at that time. He was a take-charge quizzer who deftly helped his team to pull out difficult wins even after games had begun badly. This steely focus allowed them put together consecutive championships at a time when question completion was the most difficult part of the game.

In addition to his quizzing, Garrett was known by everyone to be a flashy and dramatic contestant who had a dominant presence the game. For probably the first time in the history of BQ, there was a top national quizzer who seemed to take his competitive stance more from successful sports figures than the usually timid attitude of most quizzers. He prepared for the competition by pumping himself up, and while conferring he never looked in the scripture portion or rule book, but spoke quite loudly for everyone to hear his thoughts. He certainly had his own special, and often funny, way of doing things; to the delight of other quizzers and stern looks from judges. Many who knew him said he was a "character", and that he brought a more jovial mood to the competition, which some thought was a needed boost to lighten up what were often long and tedious rounds.

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Karl Dawson

Karl Dawson quizzed from 1990 - 1996 for Central A/G in Springfield, Missouri. After one year in B-league, Karl burst onto the national scene with a vengeance in 1992, placing 6th at national finals as an eighth grader, something nearly unheard-of in its day due to the inconsistency in question style, which often made the questions harder to complete than the answers.

In 1993, Karl placed 16th among a very tough field of competitors and over the most difficult-to-answer questions in the history of national finals at that time. He returned in 1995 where his team placed 6th and he placed 7th. In 1996, Karl finished his quizzing career going out with a bang. His team placed 3rd following a playoff and he placed 4th individually. His most impressive achievement that year was to set the record for quizzing-out forwards, doing so in 18 of 22 rounds, and smashing the previous record. What most may not know was that Karl attained these stats while rarely taking reread questions.

Karl seemed to possess what then would probably have been considered the "trifecta" of skills that allowed him to finish consistently among top scorers. First among these was a mastery of question and sentence structure, which allowed him to hit often by anticipating the key word well before his competitors. Add to that his lightning fast speed on the buzzer and the rare ability of being able to speak with clarity at extremely fast speeds, and you have a quizzer who is difficult to beat. Just when you thought Karl might have taken too long to complete the question or to get out the answer in time, or when you thought he might have over-hit the question, he would pull out the answer just in the nick of time.

Karl was also excellent at performing under pressure, and was a delight to watch in playoff situations, where his love for the challenge of "putting on a show" would come to full fruition. He is often remembered for his showmanship as much as for his talent, a rare thing to find in the often hushed world of quiz. One example that stands out is a game late in the rounds of 1995 national finals just before lunch, when both teams knew they were finishing out of the trophy positions. The other captain, being a common co-conspirator in Karl's antics, decided that one or the other of them would not only attempt to contest every single question, but would also try to openly confer with each other the entire time the judges deliberated. What followed was one of the craziest games at national finals. The question style rarely used words from scripture and were vague enough to be open to additional answers. The judges were quickly perplexed by the complex arguments in the contests and the odd structure of the questions in the face of these arguments. At this point in national finals you could see the toll the constant contesting every round for completions and additional answers had taken on the judges throughout the competition, so it only added to the hilarity. They not only managed to contest nearly every question, which led to long deliberations, but talked incessantly to each other, made faces, stuck out their tongues, and used sign-language to confer during every contest without ever being fouled, no matter how hard they tried. It sounds crazy, but to this day both teams will say it was one of the true highlights of that year, if not their entire time in BQ. It is certain that the officials had a much less jovial interpretation of the events than the quizzers did.

Since graduation, Karl has been involved with quiz as a coach, question writer, blogger, trainer, and official. He currently works as a freelance editor/writer for Christian publications, and serves as one of the webmasters of this site.

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Valerie Marchalonis

Valerie Marchalonis quizzed from 1996 - 2000 for Mountain View A/G in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her first year at nationals was in 1997. where she placed 8th individually. The next three years, not only did she improve personally, but her team improved considerably. At the 1998 finals, she was 3rd high scorer while her team placed 5th. In 1999, she was 2nd high scorer and her team tied for 4th. Finally, in 2000, she placed 3rd and led her team to a national championship.

Valerie was a very ambitious and devoted quizzer. She was always sure to delve deeply into concordance work and studied diligently to understand the meaning of the words she was memorizing. One of the deciding factors in Las Vegas's national championship in 2000 was her total mastery of the style of the question writers. She tediously divided up the question writer's sets to understand the patterns behind each type so that she knew where to perfectly anticipate the key word. Valerie was also a quizzer who only took reread questions when her other teammates did not know the answer and they needed the team points. This certainly lowered her individual score, but increased her team's chance of winning.

Valerie was also one of the pioneers of taking Bible Quiz into the online world. Known by her moniker "Bible Quiz Princess", she was very active on early versions of the forum, and was always willing to practice answering concordance questions with other quizzers over voice chats (in a day when dial-up was still the standard). Not only did she study using the internet, but she also used her access to make friends in BQ and encourage younger quizzers by helping them learn how to study scripture and improve their quiz techniques. While many teams considered what they knew to be a "team secret", not to be shared with anyone else, Valerie found joy in sharing what she knew about studying God's word. In matches, she was determined and ready for any challenge, anticipating interrupting points and nailing them almost every time. More importantly, Valerie left everyone around her with an upbeat excitement, regardless of how intense the competitive situation might be.

Following graduation, Valerie earned her B.A. from Biola University, and a M.A. from the University of North Texas. She currently works in the Las Vegas area.

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David Dorey

Without any discussion, David's name was picked by all of the people who worked on this list as an automatic entry into the top 50. Looking at his record it is easy to see why. David quizzed six consecutive years at national finals (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004) and amassed the following records:

  • Four national team championships – more than any other quizzer
  • Three of those championships were undefeated (1999, 2002, 2003) – making them the most dominant team in history
  • Three consecutive national team championships (2002 – 2004) - only one other team since expansion has ever been undefeated
  • A 54-game winning streak in regular round play, from the 17th round of 2001 through the 13th round of 2004, an unfathomable feat that beats the next closest team by 24 games
  • In 1999 he finished 15th individual high scorer on a team whose other members finished 1st and 10th – the highest three man finish in history
  • In 2000 he was 9th on a team whose other member was 5th place
  • In 2003 he was 2nd high scorer with an average of 105.53 ppg, on a team whose other members were 10th and 15th – the second highest three man finish in history
  • In 1999 David's team had nine games with scores of 300 or more points at national finals, beating the next closest record by eight 300 games.
  • In 2003, his team had three 300-plus rounds, which is the second highest total in history
  • In 2004 he was the high scorer with an average of 136.58 ppg – the second highest average in history
  • In 2004, having moved from Orange Hills A/G in California to Church at Briargate in Colorado, he swept the national competition and is one of only two people who ever earned the “Grand Slam” of Bible Quiz, which is comprised of winning the team championship, individual high scorer, individual competition, and highest individual quiz-out forward percentage. The only other quizzer to do this was his 1999 team captain, Kent Piacenti

In fact, there is hardly a team or individual record that does not have David on the list. However, what only few knew was that David probably worked longer and harder than most of the top quizzers of his era. David had to put in more time, quote more, and review more often than any of the other high scorers on his teams. Having quizzed with Kent Piacenti and Peter Brown, both of whom made the learning and retention look simple, David succeeded only by personal competitive drive and being diligent to hardly let a day go by without quoting at least half, if not all, of the material, and review his concordance and chapter analysis materials whenever he had free time. This personal ambition led him to do whatever it took to help his team win, especially in 2003 and 2004. The result was that he was able to encourage other quizzers to realize that anyone can do the work if they put their mind to the task. To this day David credits quizzing with teaching him how to learn, memorize, and assimilate knowledge so much faster than most of his peers in college and law school.

Since graduation, David has been active in Bible Quiz through officiating and coaching. He says he keeps in close contact with many of his former teammates, considering them to be an extended family. He earned his Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, where he is an editor of the law review. While in law school, David supervised a legal aid program through the local District Attorney's Office, providing legal help to battered women and children. In Autumn of 2012 he will begin working for one of the top litigation firms in Washington, D.C.

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Daniel Wagner

Very few current quizzers have made this list, but it certainly would be incomplete without the inclusion of Daniel Wagner. Daniel has quizzed since 2006 with Owasso First A/G in Owasso, OK, and has one of the most impressive list of achievements of any quizzer in the past 50 years, not to mention one of the most determined faces ever to sit at the quiz table. If you officiate a game for his team, there is no question in your mind that Daniel is there not only to play, but to win. This should not be shocking to anyone who knows how much work he puts into his preparation for competition. A great attribute of Daniel's is his ability to be all business at the quiz table, and immediately after the game to shake hands and make friends. He is ferociousness in game play is pleasantly balanced by his friendly nature and infectious smile.

Owasso's first year at National Finals, 2007, they placed 16th in the championship division. Little did anyone know that the following year they would become one of the most dominant teams in Bible Quiz history. In 2008, they became only the second church since expansion to go undefeated at national finals. That year, Daniel placed 20th, behind his two brothers who placed 5th and 7th, which is the third highest three man finish in history. In 2009, Owasso won national finals again, with only one loss, and Daniel placed 11th. In 2010, the Final Four tournament format was introduced at national finals and Owasso ended up 2nd following the final match, having gone 17 - 2 in the regular rounds. Daniel placed 4th individually that year, with his brother Jesse right behind him as 5th highest scorer, an impressive feat in any year. In 2011, Owasso won the final four, having gone 17-2 again in the regular rounds, while Daniel placed 3rd. This last victory ties Owasso with two other teams, Orange Hills, CA and Decatur, GA, who have won the national championship three times, and only one victory behind Church at Briargate with four championships. Not to mention that he still has two more years of quizzing. Over the last four years, Owasso amassed a cumulative win-loss record of 71 - 5 at national finals, and their three championships and one 2nd place finish make them the most dominant team in any four-year period. Daniel has also excelled in other competitions at national finals, winning the individual tournament in 2009 and 2011, placing him in a tie with two other quizzers, Kent Piacenti and Dan Smith, for most individual competition wins ever. His team's three national championships doubled the previous three championships won by teams from the South Central Region.

What many may not know is that Daniel is one of the brightest examples of putting God's word into godly deeds. His father is a world-renowned Evangelist, and Daniel has not only spoken at crusades to crowds of thousands under his father's direction, but has headed up and been the main speaker to youth conventions in various non-Christian countries around the world. These crusades are often attended by more than 10,000 teens, many of whom come to know Christ through the words God speaks through him. Daniel's wealth of scriptural knowledge has been the perfect preparation for ministry. He says he has been called by God to a lifetime of evangelistic work, and he has eagerly answered that call, excitedly jumping into ministry as a teenage Missionary/Evangelist. His current plans are to attend Oral Roberts University after high school to earn his bachelor's degree, followed by full-time ministry.